If I Gift My Teen a Car, are They Allowed to Do What They Want with It?

March 29th, 2019 by

When it comes to gifts, most of us know that once we receive a gift, we can do with it as we please once we thank the person who gave it to us. That hideous sweater our mother-in-law gave us that is two sizes too small – thank her and then donate it (or burn it). Those seven toasters we received as wedding gifts – thank the guests for their generosity and then exchange those toasters for that coveted KitchenAid mixer. But what happens when we gift our teen a car? Are they allowed to do what they want and go where they please?

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We recently shared that teenagers are not owed a new car when they turn 16 and get their driver’s license, but we understand that some parents choose to gift a vehicle (new or used) when their teen starts driving.

Driving allows teens to become more independent so that they are not relying on Mommy and Daddy to take them to violin lessons or softball practice. However, some teens might get too greedy when it comes to independence that they feel entitled to do what they want – such as going shopping when they should be taking care of more important responsibilities. Because the car the teen is driving is technically a gift and the paperwork might be in their name, parents may be unsure how to approach the issue of discipline.

We have a suggestion on how to handle sticky situations like this, and that is having a plan in place before attaching that giant bow on the hood or handing over the keys. This plan can include:

  • Emphasizing that driving is a privilege and poor behavior will result in losing the keys.
  • Establishing rules as to where the teen can and cannot go with the car.
  • Establishing a curfew.
  • The possibility of adding a tracking device.
  • Any damage caused by reckless driving is their responsibility to fix or pay for.

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Posted in Tips & Tricks